Did Alabama sorority recruitment video go too far or do girls just want to have fun?

A controversial University of Alabama sorority recruitment video — a series of airbrushed images of young women strutting in bikinis and short and shorter skirts — has become such a flashpoint that it was removed from YouTube by the Alpha Phi chapter.

And the University of Alabama felt compelled today to issue a statement about it:  “This video is not reflective of UA’s expectations for student organizations to be responsible digital citizens. It is important for student organizations to remember what is posted on social media makes a difference, today and tomorrow.”

Before the video was yanked, it drew half a million viewers, many drawn there by a scalding online column by writer and editor A.L. Bailey, who deemed the images sexist and trite and said they reduced the young women to commodities.

In part, Bailey wrote:

Remember all those bikini-clad, sashaying, glitter-blowing, and spontaneous piggyback-riding days of college? Me either. But according to a new video, it’s a whirlwind of glitter and girl-on-girl piggyback rides at the University of Alabama’s Alpha Phi house.

No, it’s not a slick Playboy Playmate or Girls Gone Wild video. It’s a sorority recruiting tool gaining on 500,000 views in its first week on YouTube. It’s a parade of white girls and blonde hair dye, coordinated clothing, bikinis and daisy dukes, glitter and kisses, bouncing bodies, euphoric hand-holding and hugging, gratuitous booty shots, and matching aviator sunglasses. It’s all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying, so Stepford Wives: College Edition. It’s all so … unempowering.

Bailey has won both praise and condemnation for the column.

Among the comments praising the video: “I watched the video and thought it was great! There’s nothing wrong with women being young, beautiful, and having fun!”

And here is one from the other side: “What? No pillow fights?  That’s a little disappointing.  Reminded me of the scene in ‘Animal House’ where Belushi was peeping in the window at the sorority house.  I wonder if they get a group discount on blonde hair color? ”

For the time being, here is another link to the video from YouTube. It, too, may vanish shortly. Watch and judge for yourself.

Reader Comments 0

203 comments
AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

Not seeing a problem with the video.


"Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time." - H.L. Mencken 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@AlreadySheared 

I'm not so sure that the girls in that video were actually "having a good time."  It looked to me as if they were copying one another to project was is commonly thought to be "having a good time."

Here are my words to a poster below which I believe more accurately describes the Puritanism carried over to this day in American consciousness:

"Surely, we are not a bunch of schoolmarms on this blog who cannot even bear to call truth what it is because of some kind of misguided sense of patrolling one another based upon a limited Puritanical morality regarding our word choices."

Btw, my word choice had been, "inanity."

Tatiana Romanova
Tatiana Romanova

How about girls who want to go dancing in short skirts and swimming in bikinis join alpha phi and feminzais join the chain gang?

Kevin of DFW
Kevin of DFW

 There is nothing wrong with the video.  What's wrong is the misguided PC thought police who don't want the girls to have fun.  You should be proud.  Maybe the girls should go to Auburn. 

darbrednew
darbrednew

To heck with diversity and good looking women like to be objectified

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

Mary,

You are making requests that are out of place. Hanging out with friends, going to a body of water for fun, and playing a sport are not meant for intellectual discussion. Sure, a high brow conversation could take place in these scenarios but people generally try to find time for fun and leisure with other people to escape their grind.

You assume that many of us are not educated, enlightened, or respectful of women because we don't see a problem with the content of the video. I don't see how a reasonable person can come to that conclusion so please enlighten me.

I am still waiting for someone to clearly state what wrongdoing was captured on the video. I'd be more than happy to discuss your opinion on each identified issue but I am not going to debate assumptions made about these women. That's a waste of time.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@DawgnIT 

People socialize in differing ways.  You seem to perceive that all socialize in the same manner that you do.  Again, let us try to refine our thinking processes.  Not all people think alike, or socialize alike, or fit neatly into categories.  I think it is good for someone like me to give my points-of-view, which are often not within the norm of much of accepted Southern thinking.

Again, as I had stated previously, at Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga. as well as at New York University (in which I attended both for two years each), young women have not been, nor are they today, presented in the sexual stereotypical ways which the young women in the sorority at the University of Alabama allowed themselves to be presented.  I think that the young women and those who produced their film probably think very much as you do and were seeking to appeal to those who think as you do.

Many do not think as you do, however, throughout this world.  It is a matter of maturing, and refining, one's sensibilities and caring to do so over time.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

Mary, yet another assumption. I don't hang out at bodies of water, play football, or socialize with sorority girls.

You are right that different people have different ideas for fun and socializing so why don't you leave it at that instead of vilifying these women?

NYU and Wesleyan are not Alabama. Colleges have different cultures and social opportunities. I brought up women grooming for beauty earlier because I already considered your opinion on presentation. Many women all over the world present themselves in the best light they possibly can. Singling out these ladies accomplishes what?

A woman's appearance goes way beyond a stereotype. Attractive is attractive and it's not a crime. Most women in the South wear less clothing than women in cooler regions. I'm sure that plenty of NYU females are wearing less clothing right now than they will in October when women in the South may still have opportunities to wear less.

A stereotype is an image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. Well nature tells us that females (and males) are attractive across many species. It promotes reproduction. It's not some media hyped idea. Plenty of women who are not in a sorority or even in college look just like these ladies so there is no stereotype dealing with sexuality and sororities. Women are sexy beings but I am biased as a heterosexual male. The only stereotype I saw was the blonde hair but that's not a big deal is it?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@DawgnIT 

I am not "vilifying" these girls.  I am giving my assessment.  Obviously, I am not able to connect with you, on several levels. I have tried to do so, however.

Let's just leave it at that.  Have a nice afternoon, DawgnIT.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

@MaryElizabethSings @DawgnIT Mary, your entire premise is off base.  The girls in the video did not "allow themselves to be presented" in any way.  They are the producers.  They are actively presenting themselves in the way they want to be viewed.  Noone outside their own group is portraying them, they're doing it themselves.


Oh, and funny thing about sterotypes:  they're often true.  That's why they become sterotypes.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@RichardKPE 

Please don't justify thinking in stereotypes.  That is the easiest thing in the world to do.  It is much harder to think in unorthodox ways that defy generalizations.  And, more intellectually sound.

The bottom line is that all of those girls accepted their given "group norms" for sex appeal and/or charm.  Some people in this world think that Simone Signoret ("Ship of Fools") had sex appeal or Jeanne Moreau ("Jules and Jim"). Even Anna Magnani ("The Rose Tattoo") has sex appeal to some men There are as many ways to perceive sex appeal as their are women (and men) in this world. 

 The days of the generalized, stereotypical beauty is being challenged (such as the demise of the Miss America contests), just as the idea that blacks are innately inferior to whites is, and has been, challenged.  We evolve as a human race.  Thank God.  Otherwise, we become intellectually and spiritually surface creatures. I want to see America's and the South's young men and young women grow up to be full human beings, meeting their full potential, intellectually, sexually, and spiritually.

 

https://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/puritanism-sexuality-and-the-work-ethic/


OriginalProf
OriginalProf

There's an interesting homoerotic subtext to the video that no-one has mentioned... Two males produced it, so that may account for this fantasy of sorority life.......

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@OriginalProf Similar undercurrent on Instagram where it is common to see middle and high school girls posting photos of themselves kissing female friends. A counselor pal explained teens crave "likes" on Instagram and those kissing photos get a lot of likes, especially from boys. 

popacorn
popacorn

@OriginalProf

Excellent point, Dr Freuda. Do you detect any womb envy in the making of this video?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@popacorn @OriginalProf 

No, what I detect is two guys making money off this video by getting the sorority members to enact a common male homoerotic fantasy. What sorority life is really like when the girls are alone together! The joke's on Alpha Phi.  Too funny!

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

What's wrong with you folks?  Have you never been to the beach and seen bikini clad, beautiful, gorgeous girls having fun, getting a tan, strutting down the beach attracting attention.  This has been going on forever and the UA girls were just doing what they do naturally.  They're beautiful young ladies using their natural talents to attract like kind to their sorority.  The only thing that would have made it more exciting and made my temperature rise even more is if "All the young ladies were waving their CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAGS".  Ah, a wonderful picture that would have been.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

@MaryElizabethSings @An American Patriot I can assure you MESS, that it was not written with tounge-in-cheek intentions.  Gosh, I'm glad I didn't have you as a teacher.  I might have grown up to be a a a, oh heaven forbid, a LIBERAL.  My gosh, that would have been awful.  All those beautiful women and Confederate Flags I couldn't have gazed upon.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kammy Meowt 

I notice that you did not answer my question.  But, I am bored with the conversation between us.  Have a nice day, Meowt.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

The caliber of thoughts on this thread is indicative of the fact that either many people who post on an education blog have not earned a college degree or that the caliber of many college degrees is not praiseworthy.  That may be the result of too many young Americans (or too many young Southerners?) going to college simply to learn a job skill (and that includes practicing law and medicine) rather than to be enlightened, as were our founding fathers.


The girls in the video acted as if they were still in their early adolescence, with fully developed hormones notwithstanding, and the posting audience is demonstrating that they have no idea what seeking higher consciousness or even intellectual acuity is about. 


That is what is shameful and eye-opening, not the showing of some skin or trying to outdo one another in some kind of generalized "cuteness."

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

You must be joking right? You really think that college students coming straight from high school are supposed to be mature and refined to the point thay they aren't allowed to wear sun dresses or bikinis the South, wear makeup, maintain their hair, have fun with friends, and enjoy life as young adults?

When are you going to slam any woman of any age or culture who puts on makeup and attractive clothes to go on a date, go to work, or even get married? After all, a woman shouldn't feed into objectifying herself when looks shouldn't matter.

Also, when are you going to slam the 40-50 year old suburban moms who drink wine all day with friends while the kids have a play date or go to the pool or beach to have fun while wearing swimsuits? By that age they should know better than to be outside having fun.

What have these ladies done that is causing the early destruction of the planet?

class80olddog
class80olddog

What they need is a racial quota - but, alas, they don't take Federal dollars, so you have no club to hold over their head like you do with schools.

class80olddog
class80olddog

What is TRULY wrong is that a lot of these girls will commit rape by having sex with an intoxicated frat brother - who obviously cannot give consent.  And they will never be punished, because we will never see this as rape, while when the genders are turned, it IS rape.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Next up.....the real bamalama, the Harvey Updyke fraternity and Phyllis sorority.

Key the banjo music.

HotDawg
HotDawg

There's sure to be more videos of these girls of the hardcore variety.

Parents must be proud.

Say No More
Say No More

whats the issue here? Are we injecting race again into another story--these are just a bunch of super hot girls having fun--I am sure there are hot black sororities too

stingemyall
stingemyall

Well I can see why Bama is almost #1 in recruiting year in and year out:-)

HotDawg
HotDawg

The sorority has an incentive for free, fake boobs when they graduate.

HotDawg
HotDawg

And a free stripper pole.

CSpinks
CSpinks

Can't a young female human be both a woman and a lady?


Shouldn't a young female aspire to be both an independent, highly able woman and a dignified lady.*

The sorority as meat market doesn't do much for me. Of course I'm not a late adolescent male or female who doesn't know better- but should.


* a deliberate redundancy

HotDawg
HotDawg

This video is their future resume.

"What is your experience and how can you contribute to our company?"

"Gee, like....I don't know....but, like....look at my video. Aren't I awesome? !!"

cwkimbro
cwkimbro

I agree with some of the criticisms if I really take the time to pick is over, but my problem is... why are we taking the time to pick it over? Why is this a lead story on ajc.com? This was most likely made by college students for college students. It is a care-free age to make mistakes and find oneself. Should we be surprised if some aspects of this video were over the top? I don't really think so.  Do I think these girls can do better? Yes. I just don't think this warrants much mainstream press and public scrutiny outside the immediate area of U of A.  Let them be young, care-free and make mistakes and learn in their own small world for now.  It is probably one of the best things about a university.

CSpinks
CSpinks

@cwkimbro Excuse me, but I thought the university was where folks learned to comport themselves with dignity and self-control as all adults should and to take full responsibility for their actions(without the enabling intercessions of Mommy and/or Daddy).

ProHumanitate
ProHumanitate

@cwkimbro

Except that this promotes an image that some girls may seek to aspire to for whatever reason. It resonates beyond the girls in the video. It was meant as a recruiting tool. So if you have a daughter soon to enter college, this propaganda is on her radar.

If you're over the age of 30, this stuff won't mean much to you, but to a teenager it's pretty powerful (looks, hair, bikini, flirting = living in a fantastic house with lots of girls who are similar and promise rockin' good times). 

I have nothing against letting these particular girls be young and care-free, but at the same time I will educate my daughter about the pitfalls of singular pursuit of such enticing gratifications. She will be in college not only to have fun, but to receive an education and to garner respect.

HotDawg
HotDawg

It's the look at me, look at me generation.

Millenials CRAVE attention. Their participation trophies are not enough.

They're narcissistic and need constant adoration.

redweather
redweather

@HotDawg Staring into a cellphone screen or staring into a mirror.  Can anyone tell the difference?  I sure can't.

cwkimbro
cwkimbro

@CSpinks 

Right, but we also must acknowledge that they are young and will make some sophomoric mistakes and choices as they figure that out. In other words most students will not always act professional, dignified, and practice self-control, rather that is something they learn over time and mistakes will be made. Universities are also about promoting creativity and finding ones self. That will further the amount of questionable judgements students make while they are young. They will always be open to public criticism in their area, but I don't don't see why showing these girls off in such a public way in the mainstream press in such a large city away from that college is fair to those girls.

ProHumanitate
ProHumanitate

Good lord, people. This is a university. A place where students go to achieve higher learning, ostensibly to further their education and burnish their credentials for entry into the workplace.

Yes, this is a sorority, and it's not run by the university, but the girls are students there nonetheless, presumably there (at the university) for higher education. 

There's nothing wrong with having fun, and the video is entertaining. I don't even think the main issue here is lack of diversity. It's lack of respect for the reason these young women are attending a university in the first place. No, it's not primarily to snag a husband, or to have the most audacious fun - or, wait - maybe it is. Maybe that's just the point they're trying to get across (buyer beware). But I don't think that was their intention, even though it's how it came across.

They could have done far more with the video had they supplemented the cheerleader porn with some other justification for the sorority's existence (scholarship, charity work, etc.) given its position at a university. If this were just some unaffiliated "social club", that would be different.

I think this video is just a horrible lack of judgement, but not something to vilify these students for. Better to use it to educate your girls about their real worth in life.

redweather
redweather

@ProHumanitate It seems to me that sexism is fully embraced by many Americans. So is racism, financial fraud, and garden variety falsehood.  Probably explains Donald Trump's popularity.    

gapeach101
gapeach101

At the two minute mark I checked the time, simply because I was bored.  Same old, same old.

Wandered around a bit, and when it finally ended, turns out it was edited by a couple of guys. Really?  The sorority had no one who could "produce" their own promotional video? 



HotDawg
HotDawg

The most beautiful thing was

No freaking, ugly a$$, tattoos.

Should be a promotional video for that.